Can Sensodyne Make Teeth Worse? Tooth Troubles! 2023

Last Updated: 7 December 2023

Sensodyne, a household name for those battling sensitive teeth, has long been the go-to solution for reducing discomfort from hot or cold foods. Renowned for its promise to alleviate sensitivity, it’s become a staple in many oral care routines.

But here’s a question that might give you pause: “Can Sensodyne make teeth worse?” While it’s praised for its effectiveness, some concerns have surfaced about its long-term impact on healthy teeth.  

In this post, you will delve into whether brushing with Sensodyne toothpaste could be doing more harm than good, unraveling the facts behind this popular toothpaste. 

Can Sensodyne Make Teeth Worse?

Yes, in certain conditions, Sensodyne can make teeth worse.

Sensodyne is a specifically formulated toothpaste for sensitive teeth. It typically contains ingredients like potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride, which work to desensitize teeth and protect against cavities. 

For most people, Sensodyne is safe and effective when used as directed. It’s designed to be gentle on tooth enamel and is often recommended by dentists for those with sensitive teeth. However, like any dental product, it may not be suitable for everyone. 

In rare cases, some individuals might experience adverse reactions to certain ingredients in Sensodyne, such as flavoring agents or specific compounds. These reactions could include mouth sores or gum irritation, but they are not common. Additionally, if someone is allergic to any of the ingredients in Sensodyne, they should avoid using it.

Sensodyne Toothpaste Ingredients

Here are the most common ingredients found in Sensodyne toothpaste: 

Potassium Nitrate

The primary ingredient in many Sensodyne formulas, potassium nitrate, is used for its nerve desensitizing properties. It helps reduce tooth sensitivity by calming the nerves in the teeth. 

Strontium Chloride

Found in some Sensodyne variants, strontium chloride helps in blocking the tiny tubules in the dentin. 


A common ingredient in toothpaste, fluoride in Sensodyne aids in strengthening tooth enamel and preventing tooth decay. 

Sodium Bicarbonate

Often used for its mild abrasive properties, it helps in removing surface stains and cleaning teeth effectively. 

The combination of these ingredients aims to provide relief from sensitivity, protect against cavities and maintain overall oral hygiene. 

How Does Sensodyne Work?

Here is how Sensodyne works: 

Blocking Pain Signals: Potassium nitrate works by penetrating the tooth’s surface and reaching the nerves. Here, it helps in blocking the pain signals triggered by external stimuli like hot or cold foods. 

Strengthening Enamel: Fluoride plays a crucial role in remineralizing and strengthening the tooth enamel, making teeth less susceptible to sensitivity. 

Sealing Dentin Tubules: Ingredients like strontium chloride work by occluding the dentin tubules, which are pathways to nerves that get exposed due to enamel wear or gum recession. 

Potential Concerns with Sensodyne for Worsening Your Teeth

Let’s explore possible concerns about Sensodyne toothpaste. 

Abrasiveness and Enamel Wear 

Sensodyne’s abrasiveness, or Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) value, is a key factor in understanding its impact on enamel wear. While designed to be gentle on sensitive teeth, it’s important to compare its RDA value with other toothpastes. 

Most Sensodyne variants have an RDA value within the recommended range, suggesting a lower risk of enamel erosion compared to more abrasive toothpastes. 

Enamel Wear Considerations: Despite being within safe limits, continuous use of Sensodyne toothpaste can contribute to enamel wear over time. This is particularly true if used with excessive force or with a hard-bristled toothbrush. 

Allergic Reactions and Side Effects 

While rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to ingredients in Sensodyne, such as flavoring agents or specific compounds like strontium or potassium salts. 

Symptoms of such allergic reactions can include mouth or lip swelling, itching, and in severe cases, respiratory issues. This is why some people complain about Sensodyne hurting their teeth.

Side Effects Linked to Ingredients: Sensodyne’s active ingredients, while effective for sensitivity, can cause side effects in some users. For instance, prolonged exposure to high levels of potassium nitrate, one of its key ingredients, may lead to issues like oral mucosa irritation in sensitive individuals and gum irritation. Some users have experienced gum irritation with Sensodyne.

Users’ Reviews & Concerns about Sensodyne Worsening Their Teeth

Following are some of the users’ reviews and complains about Sensodyne regarding teeth problems and making their teeth conditions worse.


Unbelievably painful and unpleasant experience

“I have used Sensodyne toothpaste off and on for years. Poor dental hygiene as a child and teen and a taste for everything from soda to iced tea to coffee made my teeth quite sensitive, and whenever that sensitivity got too bad I would switch to a tube of Sensodyne. It has always worked great for me.

My use of this particular Whitening formulation was a first for me. And the instant I began brushing, I knew I had made a poor choice. There was a severe pain in my mouth. This wasn’t just the “refreshing” feeling of, say, gargling with Listerine. This was legit burning pain. Being particularly stubborn, I did my best to ignore the pain and fully brush my teeth and gums with it, but then quickly and thoroughly rinsed my mouth out.

Hours later, I noticed an odd mucus had formed on the inside of my lips and cheeks. After checking my search engine of choice, I have come to learn that this is the soft tissue’s response to what is essentially a chemical burn. This is dead tissue sloughing off en masse from what I believe may be the whitening agent in the paste, though I don’t know for certain. What I do know is that I will not be using this toothpaste again, and I will have to try switching to the original formula Sensodyne for sensitivity relief.”

T. J. Stark, REviewed in USA on 30th September 2014

Source: Amazon

T. J. Stark explaining his frustration from sensodyne that worsened his oral health


Whitening! Not for sensitive teeth.

“You have to look like a hawk to see it in the photo, since the writeup does not mention it, but this is Sensodyne WHITENING toothpaste. Unlike Original Sensodyne, the whitening version is the devil on sensitive teeth.”

Karen, Reviewed in the USA on 31st August 2014

Source: Amazon

Karen faced worsened teeth sensitivity wth sensodyne tootpaste


Awful reaction

“Painful ulcers appeared on my tongue after a day of use of this Full Protection stuff. Rot in Hell, Sensodyne.”

Just Jeff K, Reviewed in the USA on 24th March 2018

Source: Amazon

jeff K felt mouth ulcers and teeth irritation with sensodyne toothpaste


Stops sensitivity but destroys mouth and gum tissue

“Have used Sensodyne toothpaste for too many years to count. In the last 2 years I’ve been battling irritated, red swollen gums. I’ve used all different versions in these 2 years and finally pinned it to all Sensodyne products. When I switched to Crest gum care it improved. Have to just deal with sensitivity. Can’t deal with gums that feel like the worst case of sunburn along with sores and the taste of blood from dry cracked lips and sores.”

CKS, Reviewed in the USA on 1st August 2020

Source: Amazon

CSK - Sensodyne user complaining about Sensodyne damaging his gum tissues and causing mouth irritation


Had a chemical reaction on my tongue

“I used it about a week ago and my tongue still burns. You can look at it and tell it is irritated wasn’t sure if it was actually the toothpaste so I tried it ONE more time just in case it wasn’t because I was extremely excited to start using it but yep it is from the toothpaste. I hope this feeling goes away soon.”

Breanna P, Reviewed in the USA on 19th April 2018

Source: Amazon

Breanna complaining about Sensodyne making her tongue burning and irritation because sensodyne hurted her teeth

Expert Opinions and Research on Sensodyne Worsening Your Teeth

Many dentists recommend Sensodyne for patients with sensitive teeth citing its effectiveness in reducing discomfort. 

However, some dental professionals express caution, advising that it should be used as directed and not as a complete substitute for regular toothpaste, especially if there are concerns about fluoride content or specific dental conditions. The reason is fluoride may also make your teeth sensitive.

Experts also emphasize the importance of technique and brushing habits when using Sensodyne, as improper use can lead to dental issues irrespective of the toothpaste used. 

Review of Scientific Studies 

According to the research of American Journal of Dentistry, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) in oral care products can cause mucosal desquamation, leading to the peeling of the mouth’s lining. It may also trigger irritation, inflammation of the oral mucosa and tongue, and painful ulcerations. Toxic reactions in the oral cavity, ranging from mild allergic responses to severe effects, are also possible. These adverse effects vary among individuals, depending on factors like SLS concentration and personal sensitivity. 

Findings: SLS, a common ingredient in oral care products, has potential harmful effects on the oral cavity, including tissue damage and irritation, with the severity of these effects varying based on individual susceptibility and product formulation. (1) 

SLS may be the reason some users feel burning mouth feelings with Sensodyne.

Best Practices for Using Sensodyne for Healthy Teeth

Here are some of the best practices for using Sensodyne to avoid any adverse effect: 

Right Amount: Use a pea-sized amount of Sensodyne for each brushing session. Overuse can lead to unnecessary exposure to active ingredients. 

Brushing Technique: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth gently. Aggressive brushing can lead to gum recession and enamel wear, exacerbating sensitivity. 

Frequency: Brush twice daily with Sensodyne, as recommended by dental professionals, to maintain its effectiveness in reducing sensitivity. 

Duration: Continue using Sensodyne for a prolonged period, as sensitivity relief builds up over time. Switching toothpastes may also cause sensitivity.

Rinsing Habits: Avoid rinsing immediately after brushing. Letting the toothpaste sit on your teeth for a few minutes can enhance the fluoride’s effect on enamel. 

Other Solutions for Tooth Sensitivity 

Fluoride Rinses: Fluoride mouthwashes can help strengthen enamel and reduce sensitivity. 

Desensitizing Gels: These can be applied directly to sensitive areas for targeted relief. 

Dietary Changes: Limiting acidic foods and drinks can reduce enamel erosion and sensitivity. 

Dental Procedures: In cases of severe sensitivity, procedures like bonding, crowns, or inlays can be effective. Consult with a dentist for these options. 

Alternative Toothpastes: For those who might not prefer Sensodyne, there are other toothpastes designed for sensitive teeth, such as those with arginine or calcium phosphate. 

FAQs About Sensodyne Making Teeth Worse

What causes sensitive teeth to hurt?

Common triggers for sensitive teeth include cold or hot foods and drinks, sugary or sour foods, and brushing teeth. 

Are sensitive teeth common?

Yes, sensitive teeth affect 40% of people, mostly between the ages of 20 and 50. 

Can overbrushing cause sensitive teeth?

Overbrushing can contribute to gum recession and enamel wear, leading to sensitive teeth. 

Are sensitive teeth a sign of a more serious dental problem?

Tooth pain can have various causes, including tooth sensitivity, cracked teeth, or cavities. Persistent pain should be checked by a dentist. 

How does Sensodyne toothpaste work?

Sensodyne toothpastes either soothe the nerves inside teeth or build a protective layer over exposed dentin to prevent pain from triggers. 

Does Sensodyne toothpaste help prevent cavities?

Yes, all Sensodyne products contain fluoride, which helps protect against cavities. 

What are the active ingredients in Sensodyne toothpastes?

Sensodyne toothpastes contain stannous fluoride or potassium nitrate as anti-sensitivity agents. 

Does Sensodyne toothpaste contain SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)?

Most Sensodyne toothpastes are free of SLS, an ingredient that makes toothpaste foamy. 

Is Sensodyne toothpaste gluten-free?

Sensodyne products do not contain gluten as a direct ingredient, but the presence of trace amounts cannot be excluded due to third-party manufacturing processes. 

Is Sensodyne an abrasive toothpaste?

No, all Sensodyne toothpastes comply with ADA, FDA, and ISO guidelines for daily-use toothpastes. 

Wrapping Up: Sensodyne’s Role in Teeth Worsening

As you ponder the question, “Can Sensodyne make teeth worse?”, it’s natural to feel a mix of curiosity and concern. After all, your dental health is crucial, and choosing the right toothpaste is more than just a routine decision. The evidence suggests that while Sensodyne is highly effective for sensitive teeth, it’s important to use it as directed.

Remember, every mouth is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re experiencing worsening symptoms or have concerns about your toothpaste, consulting with a dental professional is always the best course of action. Your journey to a comfortable, healthy smile is a personal one, and with the right care and knowledge, you’re well on your way. 

Read More about Oral Health:

– Do Whitening Strips Destroy Enamel? The Enamel Debate! 2023

Can Gingivitis Cause Sensitive Teeth? Shocking Facts! 2023

Best Stain Remover for Teeth: Ultimate Guide for Stain-Free Smile (2023)

Best Teeth Whitening Chicago: Teeth Whitening in Chicago for A Sweet Smile

Sources & References

  1. Kasi SR, Özcan M, Feilzer AJ. Side effects of sodium lauryl sulfate applied in toothpastes: A scoping review. Am J Dent. 2022 Apr;35(2):84-88. PMID: 35506963. 

About the Author & Medical Reviewer:

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Muhammad Muaz Sheikh

Muhammad Muaz is a seasoned professional in the realm of media and communication, boasting a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication with a specialization in PR & Media Advertisement. With an innate understanding of effective communication strategies, Muaz has honed his expertise through extensive experience in various media houses, serving in key editorial roles. His journey in the field of media has equipped him with a profound understanding of storytelling and impactful content creation.

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Dr. Adriana Lombardi M.D

Dr. Adriana Lombardi, MD, is a distinguished Dermatologist with a passion for enhancing skin health and radiance. With extensive medical training and years of clinical experience, Dr. Lombardi stands at the forefront of dermatological care. Her commitment to excellence is evident in her precise diagnoses and personalized treatment plans, tailored to each patient's unique needs. Her work has been featured on Refinery29, TeenVogue, WomenHealthMag, and many other media outlets.